Because Chow Yun-Fat will not return to Hong Kong, Wong
Jing decided to go back in time. This origin story sans
Chow tells of Ko Chunís start as a young boy to
his eventual crowning as the God of Gamblers. In a debatable
move, Sky King Leon Lai subs for Chow. If this sounds
like a mistake, it isnít. Wong Jing actually pulls
together a good one here, with decent production values,
a fun script, and terrific performances.
The story picks up as Ko Chun
prepares to hit the gambling circuit with his godfather
(Chung King-Fai), and his two gambling partners (Gigi
Leung and Francis Ng). However, money is ultimately
the devil's candy, and Chun is betrayed by those he
trusts most. Luckily, he's taken in by Sister Seven
(Anita Yuen), who's been a long-time admirer of Ko Chun.
With her help, he prepares to take back what he lost,
which is pretty much the theme of every God of Gamblers film ever made.
Even more help arrives in the
form of the young Lone Ng, who was essayed by triad
producer Charles Heung in the other God of Gamblers films. In this prequel, he's played by Jordan Chan,
who simply owns this picture. Chan shows an amazing
charisma and physical presence that completely blows
Leon Lai out of the water. Lai doesn't really do such
a bad job himself, but his version of Ko Chun is essentially
another version of his usual acting mode.
It's the co-stars
who save this film; both Chan and Anita Yuen (who turns
in one of her patented loveable turns) are terrific,
and effectively carry the picture. The rest of the film is the
usual mishmash of typical Wong Jing elements, meaning
time outs for action, laughs, and some overdone romanticism.
As commercial Hong Kong pop cinema goes, this movie
is tough to beat. (Kozo 1996)